Ian Guthrie warmed up the Building Blocks party last Friday at the Mockingbird with one of his trademark funky techno sets. The club had been decorated with nine disco balls suspended low over the floor, a simple but effective intervention that established the feel of the party immediately.
Unfortunately, the event -- like others throughout the week -- suffered some technical problems when the main sound system died just as the club started filling up. Guthrie continued playing through the monitors, and many were still willing to dance to the reduced volume. When the system kicked back in, cheers filled the club and the dance floor exploded.
Following Guthrie was Twerk (of the Force Inc. label), performing live on a laptop using random composition-generating software that he wrote himself. His set was more dance-oriented than much of his recorded work, but was still fairly experimental. He makes strange, glitchy music that's surprisingly funky, and the crowd was quite willing to get down to his science experiments. Too bad his set was also marred by technical mishaps -- a problem that cursed the next two techno events as well.
Cutting-edge techno crews Wabi and Technot teamed up with the Music Gallery that same Friday to present an evening of strange music in a dark warehouse in the middle of nowhere -- Front and Cherry. The space was nicely reworked with multiple projections that repeated the ghostly image of a girl running through the dark and overlapped it with footage of the event itself.
Arrived to catch the last half of the G.I. Joe Killaz, an indie rap crew who dress up as Cobra (the arch enemy of G.I. Joe) and make silly gansta rap songs about killing the all-American hero. Closer to performance art than music, they featured a guy dressed up as G.I. Joe covered in fake blood to kick around the makeshift stage. If nothing else, they were entertaining, although a bit of a strange choice considering the seriousness of the other acts.
Matthew Dear, an up-and-coming Detroit techno DJ and producer, followed. He got the floor moving again with a sweet, deep techno set, but was hampered by bass feedback. At times his set veered close to house, but for the most part it was filled with pretty, dubby techno. It's nice to see melodic techno filling a dance floor. Too often it gets pushed into small lounges in favour of harder, faster flavours.
nightmare on queen
The Zen Lounge hosted a Halloween techno and house party Saturday, featuring Ali Black, Adam Marshall, Mike Shannon and Chicago's DJ Traxx. Most people were dressed up for this one.
Ali Black spun a harder, more techno-oriented set than usual -- spooky music seemed to be the theme of the evening -- although he did drop a few deep house tracks.
Adam Marshall appeared next and demonstrated why he's one of Toronto's best-respected techno DJs. He keeps it funky, experimental and deep all at once, and the crowd was loving it. It seems inadequate to typecast him as a techno DJ; his selections go way beyond the clichés of the genre. Consistently high-quality tracks and talented mixing -- even the badly skipping turntable didn't disrupt his flow.